We'll have to agree to differ, Katherine. While ballet is a great art form and excites many on a first viewing, it remains a closed book for perhaps a majority of the general population in the Anglo-Saxon world. As evidence, I would offer my attempts to take corporate guests to ballet performances and the negative reactions that resulted. The fact is that this stylised form needs decoding and for many it remains a closed book.
In terms of attracting non-dance audienaces, two forms spring to mind:
- Matthew Bourne's contemporary dance theatre presentations, featuring humour, understandable narrative and emotional clout, do bring in non-dance audiences. Indeed, Bourne has said that this is his aim. When his contemporary dance "Swan Lake" came to London's West End, more than one of those interviewed post-show said that they were not attracted to ballet, but this had kept their attention.
- The other style that I have seen attract non-dance (and dance) audiences is hip-hop/street dance. With its energy and sensational moves, it usually creates a stir in a theatre environment. The problem comes in sustaining interest over more than say 15 minutes, although groups such as Renee Harris and Compagnie Kafig are well on the way to achieving this.
The most general point in dealing with non-dance audiences, is to remember that they will not be used to decoding dance symbology, so keep it simple.